Monday, April 6, 2009

. . . and let there be Resistance!

This week's readings quite explicitly focused on the theme of resistance. At some point in my life I knew of only one meaning of resistance - armed or violent opposition. And now critical studies have given me more knowledge was understanding of what else can be constructed as resistance.

We see resistance in Mallory & Stern's (2008) article Awakening as a Change Process Among Women at Risk for HIV Who Engage in Survival Sex. The authors highlight that one out of every five AIDS patients is a woman, and HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among African American women. More importantly, such AIDS prevalence seems to be more common among women who are marginalized by poverty drug abuse, and sex trade. The authors implicitly argues how addressing the root causes of such behavior among this population acts as resistance towards further victimization of these women.

We then read about the resistive acts of the low income African American young females in Martyn & Hatchinson's (2001) article titled Low-Income African American Adolescents Who Avoid Pregnancy: Tough Girls Who Rewrite Negative Scripts. We see how social scripting actually derails members of this population into derailment of proper goals. The authors take examples of girls who have resisted the social negatives and have made examples of themselves in terms to not getting pregnant early, trying to pursue higher education, and a proper male influence in their lives. Although statistics seem to support this statement, but I personally feel uneasy thinking about African American teenagers as poster people for teenage pregnancies and drug abuse.

Many of Dutta's essays revolve around the theme of resistance. We have read that in the book, previous articles, and now on the structural barrier and poverty of the Santali people of Western Bengal (2004). He continually promotes the idea that change needs to come from within, and foregrounding the voices of the marginalized creates a fracture to the dominant status que, and that is the primary mode of reconstructing the status que itself. Cultural practices and health beliefs of the Santalis not only establish their identity but also acts as their resistive strategies.

Finally Basu & Dutta's (2008) essay on the sex workers of West Bengal and the SHIP program acts as a clear example of how resistance and action needs to come from within the marginalized groups in order for it to be effective. Yes, the sex workers have still remained poor and still struggle with their every day lives, but the success of such a program has made them more self reliant and stronger than ever before.

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